Tag Archives: balance

API Announces “Voices of Breastfeeding” Double Edition of Attached Family

New Magazine Issue Advocates for Increased Support of Compassionate Infant-Feeding Choices

Bf 2014 Challenges smIn honor of the millions of women who have come together throughout history to support one another in motherhood, Attachment Parenting International (API) is pleased to announce the latest edition of Attached Family magazine. This double “Voices of Breastfeeding” issue spotlights both the cultural explosion of breastfeeding advocacy as well as the challenges still to overcome.

“This issue of the magazine has been a long time in the making,” said Rita Brhel, Editor of the Attached Family and API Publications Coordinator. “We wanted to create a resource that is helpful to all mothers, both those who were able to breastfeed their babies and those who were unable to.”

The “Voices of Breastfeeding” edition of Attached Family is divided into an “Advocating for Acceptance” issue that identifies the ever-growing movement of mothers inspired to campaign for society’s embrace of breastfeeding, and a “Meeting Challenges with Compassion” issue that recognizes that there are circumstances when breastfeeding is difficult, if not impossible, highlighting the importance of empathetic support for all infant-feeding choices.

“Ideally, I would have liked to have breastfed all three of my children,” Brhel said. “But Attachment Parenting International supports parents in all walks of life, including mothers who are unable to breastfeed, and I was able to learn how to meet my child’s attachment needs through sensitive responsiveness beyond breastfeeding.”

This edition of Attached Family was also made in appreciation of longtime magazines like Mothering, New Beginnings and Breastfeeding Today, which paved the way to widespread support for breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting conversations among mothers, and now fathers, and by extension, contributing to the breastfeeding movement that eventually influenced the research and medical communities.

“API is pleased to give a voice to our breastfeeding struggles, those related to society’s acceptance as well as those shared by mother and baby,” said Samantha Gray, Executive Director of Attachment Parenting International. “Emphasizing healthy attachment and relationship, it is natural that we speak up collectively to further advocacy efforts and gather together regularly to give personal support. Our contributors, led by Rita’s editorial vision and passion for breastfeeding support, have captured that perspective in this double issue.”

Scattered throughout the “Voices of Breastfeeding” edition of Attached Family are parent stories, project highlights and additional resources from around and beyond API, as well as the following features:

·         “The Real Breastfeeding Story” detailing exactly how far industrial society has come in accepting breastfeeding, yet also how far we have yet to go, which includes a look at “Extended Nursing Around the World”

·         “When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work” explains the hard decisions some mothers made regarding their infant-feeding choices

·         An interview with Katrina Pavlik, founder of “Breastfeed, Chicago!” and an accompanying photo essay of breastfeeding families in Chicago, Illinois, USA

·         “Nature’s Case for Breastfeeding” featuring Attachment Parenting researcher Jeanne Stolzer from the University of Nebraska, USA

·         A recap of the past century’s infant-feeding landscape in “The History of Formula Use”

·         API’s debut of the Parent Support Deserts project with a presentation of infant-feeding support deserts within the United States

·         “Why Relationship with Your Baby Matters” by API’s Knowledge Base Coordinator Art Yuen

“This edition of Attached Family continues API’s goal of providing research-backed information in an environment of respect, empathy and compassion in order to support parents in making decisions for their families and to create support networks in their communities,” Brhel said.

API thanks cosponsors of this special edition of Attached Family: Arm’s Reach Concepts, Katie M. Berggren, Green Child Magazine, Momzelle and The Infant-Parent Institute for their generous contributions.

Access this double issue free of charge with API’s free membership.


Screen-Free Week: An Interview with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

By Rita Brhel, managing editor of Attached Family magazine, API’s Publications Coordinator and an API Leader (Hastings API, Nebraska, USA)

for-white-TEE-e1390923415217Television, computers and other technology can offer a lot in terms of education and entertainment. Living in a temperate region with bitter winters and sweltering summers, there are seasons when my outdoors-loving family prefers time inside, and I have found creative ways to turn screen time into interactive family time as needed.

However, I also have to admit that it can be tempting, especially in the seemingly endless winter months, to overdo the screen time. Screen-Free Week—being observed this year from May 5-11—serves as an annual reminder to balance screen time with time away from technology.

Attachment Parenting International (API) promotes a balance of screen time within the family as one of the many ways to prioritize the parent-child relationship. Each year, API’s online magazine, blog, social media sites and other online resources go quiet in support of Screen-Free Week. We’re excited to be able to bring you this interview with Sara Adelmann, MA, with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, home of Screen-Free Week, to further inspire your family to take part in this international event.

RITA: Thank you, Sara, for your time. I understand that this is a very busy time of the year for you as Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) gets ready for Screen-Free Week. API embraces Screen-Free Week as an opportunity to educate and support parents in reducing screen time in their homes. Let’s start by learning more about CCFC and Screen-Free Week.

SARA: CCFC is the proud home to Screen-Free Week. We set the dates each year, provide resources and help spread the word. But it’s the thousands of individuals all over the world who organize local events. Anyone can organize Screen-Free Week in a classroom or entire school, with a scout troop, faith community, neighborhood association, at a local library or in any community group. Organizers and volunteers promote the week, reach out to partners, and help children and families discover fun, screen-free activities.

Screen-Free Week celebrations vary from family to family, school to school and town to town. Every year, we hear from organizers and participants around the globe about all of the fun screen-free activities they’ve discovered. Visit www.screenfree.org to find out how you can get involved—for the children in your life, for yourself and for a more positive, healthier future.

RITA: Screen-Free Week is an innovative project and so needed in our tech-heavy culture. What originally inspired CCFC to organize Screen-Free Week?

SARA: Reducing children’s screen time and advocating for screen-free, commercial-free time and space has always been essential to CCFC’s mission. That’s why when the Center for Screen-Time Awareness closed its doors [in 2010] and asked us to become the new official home of what used to be called “TV-Turnoff” [since 1994], we leaped at the chance.

Children are spending way too much time with screens—a staggering 32 hours per week for preschoolers and even more for older kids. And now, with mobile devices, children are immersed in screens, and the things they sell, nearly every waking moment. Regardless of content, excessive screen time changes children’s fundamental connection to the world. It deprives them of hands-on creative play—the foundation of learning, creativity, constructive problem solving and the capacity to wrestle with life to make it meaningful. And the costs are extraordinary: poor school performance, childhood obesity and problems with attention are just a few.

Turning off screens for seven days helps participants realize that life without screens is not impossible and is actually fun. A week-long turnoff allows sufficient time to explore a wide range of screen-free activities and develop more productive and healthy habits. Giving children the chance to play actively, develop relationships and learn to evaluate options will help them become more well-rounded people, better educated citizens and more alert consumers.

RITA: API loves how Screen-Free Week promotes families spending time together beyond technology, but we recognize that in many families, at least some screen time is the norm. How much screen time is too much?

SARA: Research links excessive screen time with many of the health and social problems facing children today, including learning, attention and social problems, childhood obesity and sleep disturbances. In addition, the more time our youngest children spend with screens, the less time they spend interacting with caring adults and in hands-on, creative play—two activities proven to be important for learning. It also exposes kids to lots of harmful advertising and can be habit forming.

It’s vital that parents monitor the amount of time their children spend with screen media. With so many different devices available these days, parents might not realize how much time their children are spending with screens—minutes can easily turn into hours. Setting rules early on about when, where, what and how much is important.

Ask A Leader: Housework Stress and Car Seat Woes

By Leyani Redditi and Cason Zarro, API Leaders of API of Greater Atlanta, Georgia

Q: I am feeling overwhelmed with household chores and parenting. I want to be present for my children, but the pressure of everything I need to get done is so stressful. How can I get everything done and have time for my kids?

1208354_91362232A: I have struggled with this balance myself. It is fine to say to a brand new parent not to worry about the dirty dishes, but eventually they do need to get done. I find that when my home is relatively clean and we have food in the fridge and clean clothes, my family and I are less stressed.

So how does it all get done? Well, first of all, it doesn’t ALL get done. Some things will go by the wayside. Maybe it is the folding or ironing part of laundry. A basket of clean clothes still counts as doing laundry. By all means cut corners where you feel you can while still feeling good in your space. But even then there are repetitive and time-consuming tasks that somehow need to get done.

Here is what I have found to be the most helpful for getting things done while taking care of my children: Figure out a system, do things in short increments and do something each day.

Find your system: Everyone has a different way of organizing themselves (or not), but when you sit down and list the things that need to happen in a day, you see why you are so busy (and tired) and why sometimes it feels so overwhelming. So make the list, give yourself credit for how hard you work and then get strategic.

Figure out what things need to be done each day, each week and each month. How can other family members help with these tasks? You all live in the house and can all help in some way. My 3-year-old helps set the table and picks up toys during our family 10-minute toy pick-ups. My 7-year-old puts away her own clean laundry and feeds our pets. My husband helps with dishes and home maintenance. I have found it very helpful to have a Morning List and an Evening List. And, no, we don’t get everything done each day, but we are all involved, and we know what needs to be done (most days).

Work in short increments: Having a newborn taught me to use the very short amounts of time I had with both hands free to get a lot done. Talk about learning to prioritize! I love the idea of only spending 10 or maximum 15 minutes on a task. I don’t wait until I have an hour to do chores. I do 10 minutes here, 10 there, and slowly things get done. Really it’s finding the rhythm of your day and your family. I think about fitting in little bursts of activity so that I can have the luxury of long chore-free stretches with my children.

Do something each day: Household chores are ongoing and repetitive; the plates get dirty over and over again. For me, learning to think of these activities as “life maintenance” was very helpful. Just like brushing my teeth, there are some things that need to get done every day (or at least most days). I had to give up the idea that at some point I’d find a bunch of free time to get it all done. So I do something each day. Sometimes getting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher is it. Other days, we pick up the house as a family. We put on great music and set the timer for 10 minutes. Then it is a mad dash around the house full of laughter as we pick up and put away what we can.

Most importantly, give yourself credit for whatever you get done. Feel good you are doing something rather than bad that you are not doing everything.

~ Leyani Redditi

*Scroll down to read more suggestions from our readers.

Q: My 6-week-old baby cries and cries every time he is in the car. How can I help him like the car?

A: Although many babies are put to sleep by the sound and vibration of the car, there are quite a few babes who cry and want to get out. Time will certainly make this better, but there are some things you can try in the meantime.

Some babies are simply not comfortable in their infant car seats. If you think that is the case, you may wish to try a different model car seat. Sometimes switching to a convertible seat may result in a happier baby because the seat may be more comfortable. A convertible seat is one that can be placed rear-facing for infants, and then turned around when your little one has reached the rear-facing limits for the seat. You should consult the car seat manual to determine if your infant meets the minimum weight and size requirement for a convertible seat.

Nurse or feed your baby right before you leave. Make sure his diaper is dry and that he has burped. You want him to be as comfortable as possible before strapping him in his seat.

If there are any music or radio shows that you listened to while pregnant, try listening to them in the car. The familiar noises can be very comforting for babies. Try singing some lullabies or upbeat songs, depending on what your baby prefers. Some babies are soothed by white noise. In a pinch, radio static can act as white noise.

You could also try placing a T-shirt you’ve recently worn close to your dear son. The familiar smell of Mama may help him feel less lonely. Some families have found it helpful to tape a picture of mom’s face where the baby can see it. If you are the passenger, reach back and rub his head or sit in the seat next to him.

Sometimes you may need to pull over to a safe place and nurse or otherwise comfort your baby. I have found it helpful to pull over, sit in the seat next to my baby and lean over to nurse her. She will even fall asleep occasionally, and I can sneak around and drive while she sleeps peacefully. If your son will be comforted this way, it can be helpful to keep him buckled so that he doesn’t wake up when you are trying to get him back in his seat. You can also try nursing him like this before even leaving the house.

Allow extra time, especially if you need to be somewhere at a certain time. This can reduce your stress when you do need to stop. Reduce unnecessary trips, and encourage friends to come visit you.

If all else fails, talk to your pediatrician to rule out a medical reason such as acid reflux.

~ Cason Zarro

We asked readers on Facebook to tell us how they find balance with household chores and parenting. Click here to read the full conversation on Facebook.

Sunshine: Lower your expectations. Best piece of advice that was given to me!

Erin: We gave up cable and hired a housekeeper to come once every 2 weeks. Best money ever spent in our home of 2 full-time workers. It allows us to spend time with our kids after work and still get lunches packed, etc.

Ina: Prioritize–listening to your child’s idea is a “now,” folding laundry is a “later,” and cleaning the garage is a “maybe.” Downsize–don’t have too many clothes, toys and knick-knacks around. The more you own, the more you clean. Change the bottlenecks–if there is a time of crazy stress during the day, try to change it (e.g., if bathing in the evening is stressful, bathe them after lunch).

Leah: Sometimes you just have to let go of the phrases “I need to” or “I should.”

Elizabeth: I find a lot of comfort from a weekly chart. I do just two or three main house cleaning things per day, and then I’m not spending an entire day cleaning everything. I also remind myself that my chart is a guide, not a “to do” list. I keep my kitchen tasks for after school time since my son is in there already doing his homework. He sits up to the counter, and I help him with his homework as needed while I do the dishes and get dinner on.

Sandra: The bottom stair and a shelf at the top of the stairs are the gathering area for things that need to be put away. No wasted trips up or down the stairs. Going up anyway–take the packs of tissue to the hall closet. Coming down–bring the glasses to put in the dishwasher.

Jennifer: I take a nightly bath with my two youngest (4 months & 19 months). It’s probably the only way I can even fit in a bath at night for myself. It’s such a sweet moment and my favorite part of the day. I wash each, hand them one by one to dad to dress, then rinse off myself. Simple things make a difference!

Jane: Keep kids involved; it’s their house, too. All three of them love it when I allow them to wash the bathroom (not the toilet). We get $2 spray bottles, fill with water and either vinegar, bicarbonate or lemon, and let them go for it. Let go of your pre-kids standard.

Brittany: Just decide sometimes that it’s actually not the priority; sometimes playing with your kids, reading stories, or taking a relaxing bath while listening to jazz or opera is more important. Sometimes meditating and deciding to be grateful that it’s your life and those are your kids before you crank up the music and start working helps you keep focus.

Cathy: By just implying it should all be balanced and we should be managing it–without staff–is just unfair at times.

Savannah: Having a routine of cleaning during a certain part of the day has unintentionally given my daughter a routine for when to have “alone” play time, which she enjoys quite a bit.

Maria: If you have something you need to do without kids nagging, give them lots of attention first. Play a game, get exercise, feed them, snuggle. Then try to get your task done.

Lauren: Babywearing definitely helps!

Aimee: Honestly, I just let things go. I clean up food and big messes, but our house is not perfectly clean unless we have guests coming over, then I do a quick major overhaul! We work full time, and I’d rather spend the time I do have with my daughter. I’d love to always have healthy home-cooked meals, but we do a lot of ready-made meals from Trader Joes.

Louise: My hubby is superb and cleans the kitchen whilst balancing both kids in the mornings, so I can sleep a bit more (5-month-old feeds 2 hourly), and I do the rest of the house. Online grocery shopping is a godsend!

Elizabeth: A few tactical things we do to help keep me from being overwhelmed: hired a cleaning person, make two meals on Sunday so we have leftovers for the first half of the work week, and use a grocery list app.

Josie: While my husband is doing the bedtime routine, I take 10 minutes to pick up the toys and straighten up a bit. It’s easier to start from zero the next morning!

Melanie: I have baskets in several rooms, so when I see something that doesn’t belong in that room (comb, dog collar, Lego brick, calculator, etc.), I pop it in the basket. Then every week or so, I empty all the baskets into a pile on the lounge floor and shout, “Come and get your stuff; anything not collected goes in the charity bag.” Works every time, and we quite often have stuff there for charity, too.

Kristen: My husband shares in all chores and, in fact, probably does more than me since our daughter was born (9 months old and breastfeeding). I spent half my childhood pretending to keep house or work … just because our society tells us these things aren’t fun doesn’t have to make it true for us. For our family, housekeeping is part of the overall peace of our lives.

Judy: I am thinking about doing a home office share with another work-from-home mom so that we can trade off child care on 2 hour shifts for each other while the other gets stuff done.

Cherry: I remind myself that it isn’t my ever-so-clean carpets and clean kitchen that I will be remembering on my death bed … it will be my time spent with my DD.




How to Parent with Attunement and Creativity

By Brooke Campbell,  MA, Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist and Board Certified Trainer, founder and director of Creative Kinections LLC, www.creativekinections.com. Originally published on www.relationshipadvicecafe.com, reprinted with permission.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis article was challenging to put into words because parenting is not easily definable. Once we accept that there are no “perfect parents” and we all are in a process of learning and discovery, we will grow alongside our children’s development.

1. Be present with your presence. Parenting is messy and involves a continual process of being present. Parenthood is an act of doing and a state of being. Being present requires us to feel our own presence. This takes courage as we navigate through the inner landscape of our strengths and shortcomings. Those challenging parts of ourselves that are difficult to accept need our full attention like a crying infant or tantrumming toddler. When we neglect or avoid doing the hard “internal” work on ourselves, areas in our home and family life suffer. If we avoid the chaos within ourselves, how can we tolerate our own child’s chaos, struggles and problems?

Our children are astute creatures and experts at reading our non-verbal cues. When we are suffering, our children empathically know and sense it. If we are not able to role model our own set of ways to peacefully problem solve and use emotional intelligence, how will they feel safe enough to show us their pain? When we are not present within our daily lives, it delivers the message to our children that we are not capable of being able to handle their struggles.

State your feelings to your child and the reasons behind the emotion in an age-appropriate way. Empathy is learned. This doesn’t mean you can emotionally burden your child or use your feelings to manipulate or victimize. Your ability to name and express feelings safely is a powerful teaching lesson for your child.

2. Do your internal homework. Children are conditioned to complete and hand in their homework for a teacher to grade. As parents, we must initiate completing our own internal homework, including asking ourselves questions like:

  • Would I want to be parented the way I parent my own child?

  • What messages (spoken or unspoken) were sent to me during childhood from my family of origin? For example, some adults I work with share that they felt neglected, not good enough, ignored, misunderstood, silenced, abused, controlled, manipulated and isolated as children.

  • How are the messages I learned from childhood shaping my role as a parent?

  • Am I parenting my child the way I was parented? If so, was this a conscious or unconscious choice?

Your responses will serve as a guide on your parenting journey.

3. Envision yourself as your child. Parenting can be frustrating. Here is one activity to use for grounding your stress. One powerful and effective drama therapy intervention I use involves “role-reversal.” When we put our agendas aside and shift our perspective by thinking and feeling as our children, we gain a powerful amount of empathy and insight. Imagining yourself as your child can provide you with specific answers about his or her worries, concerns, struggles, frustrations, needs and wants. It is then your job to tune into what makes your child tick to inform your decision-making as parents. Instead of being influenced by outside forces, such as your own parents, in-laws, neighbors, friends and parenting books, when you imagine yourself as your child you will gain confidence in knowing what is needed to shape your child’s development.

4. Practice mirroring in movement and sound to create attunement. No matter what our child’s age or stage of development, he or she will alter negative behaviors, moods and attitudes when we reflect his or her body language and speech. Consider times when we become highly in tune during conversations with people we value. We begin to model their body language, repeat similar themes and words, and we may laugh at the same time. When our gestures, thoughts and feelings are mirrored back to us, we feel validated. Our children have a deep need to be validated and witnessed by us. It’s our responsibility to do so.

5. Develop a practice of action. Our children are always in action, even when they’re still.  When we develop a practice of action, we allow moments to occur which bring our focus onto something outside of our child’s behavior and ourselves. Pass a ball, break out into song, get on the floor and play, turn the radio up, dance at home, read the book your teen is reading, play cards or your favorite board game. Even if your child’s action is slight, such as tapping a fork on the table or looking outside, take their cues so you can follow through with a seamless response.

You can also name what your child is doing and serve as a “double” for him or her. Doubling is a term that is used in the action-oriented form of psychotherapy called psychodrama, in which an individual communicates on a deeper level what the protagonist is experiencing, thus voicing the protagonist’s unspoken words. In this case, the protagonist is your child. Validate your child’s actions by naming them and the motivation behind them. Then follow up your validation by responding to the action in an intuitive way. Responding to your child’s actions could include mirroring, singing a song about the action, doing a dance inspired by the action or creating a character who would engage in your child’s same action. Be creative by taking your child’s cue to enter his or her world in order to develop a deeper sense of attunement. This shows your child you are listening, you understand him or her and you care.

6. Bring creativity and imagination to your parenting practice. Children, no matter the age or stage of development, are wired to think and behave outside of the box because of such intense levels of imagination and ability to express themselves. But they may experience periods of feeling helpless and powerless. They can’t make all decisions on their own or be fully independent. Experiences of powerlessness and helplessness have a vital need to be expressed. The expression needs a safe place to land. This may mean blowing bubbles in your house, ripping paper up to get frustrations out, or you enacting your child’s feelings in an emotionally intelligent way, such as, “I’m so mad my toy broke! Now I can’t play with it.” To foster your child’s ability to express, try enrolling yourself as a clown or a child, or gather leaves to create art. Your children will thank you because you gave them the gift of expression.

7. Break out of your patterns. Children do thrive on routine, but they also need us to break out of ours in order to witness their needs and challenges. In my ten years as a drama therapist, I have encountered parents who kept forcing their children to fit into squares when the children were clearly circles. This analogy is used to inform us that we need to break out of our patterns and ways of operating, behaving and thinking to be attuned to our children. Parenting is not about convenience. It’s about commitment to positively shaping their development. If our pattern also matches our child’s pattern of operating, then what we’re doing is working. If we are imposing our control on our child to meet our needs at the expense of our child, then we need to make some important changes and make them immediately.

8. Imagine fast-forwarding your life: Picture your children as adults. Children grow before our eyes, and I know how challenging it is to accept our child’s fast-paced development. If, for a moment, you imagine your children as adults, what kind of life do you envision them living? Do not imagine how you want them to live. Base your child’s imagined future on his or her strengths, skill set, personality and temperament. How do you picture them as adults? Do they feel competent? Are they independent? Are they happy? The information you have now about your child will guide your ability to envision your child’s potential future as an adult. If you have a strained relationship with your child now, how will that affect his or her future as an adult? You are laying the foundation for the house of your child’s life. Is your child’s foundation built on quicksand or steady ground?

9. Imagine your daughter/son wrote you a letter. If your child were to write you a letter about how he or she experiences you as a parent, what would it say? The thing is, you know the areas in the way you parent that need work–the parts that you may be ashamed of or feel out of control about. If your child wrote about your need for control, your shame, your fear, your anxiety and your rage, how would it feel to have someone know your truth? What changes would you make as a parent now to work through your parenting challenges?

10. Imagine your child becoming a parent. When your child becomes an adult, segueing into parenthood, what kind of parent will he or she become? Our children most likely will take on qualities of how we parented them, since our treatment toward our children is a learned behavior. Yes, we as humans are imperfect beings. Where can we make positive shifts in our own parenting choices to implement a strong framework for our children for when they have a family of their own?

11. Develop adaptability and accept change. One tip for parenting and for coping through life’s struggles is developing an open approach to adapting and accepting change. Parenting, like childhood, is about fluidity, flexibility and change, which also mirrors the ebb and flow of tidal waves.

Practically speaking, this means that we may need to alter our behavior, approach, communication style, actions and life choices. When children enter our lives, they metaphorically hold a mirror up to us and encourage us to change, just like they transform as they grow.

12. Take your child’s lead. Children are born innocent, curious and creative. When you accept that children have equal rights as adults, you will notice positive shifts in your parenting approach. Be curious about life, people, experiences, textures, colors, problems, seasons, etc. Activate your sense of touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell. When we jump into our child’s world of imagination and curiosity, we heal our wounded child within, and we strengthen our relationship with our child. The message here is take your child’s lead. Usually when we take our child’s lead, moments transform and negative behavior and moods shift.


API Reads – September and October Featured Book

HendrixWhy do we choose the partners we do?


Why do they seem to have some characteristics that resemble those of our caregivers?


Why does it seem that opposites attract?


How is the communication in the relationship enhanced so that both parties are heard?


How can the relationship be taken to the next level of love?


We’ll discuss this as well as other passages in our September and October API Reads program of Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix. Our discussions happen online at GoodReads.

Three Simple Communication Tips for a Happier Vacation

By Stacy Jagger, MMFT, owner of Sunnybrook Counseling, www.sunnybrookcounseling.com

If you are anything like me, it is so easy to overdo it on a vacation. I am known among my friends for squeezing all I can out of a day, and sometimes it’s just too much. On the last Disney trip we took, when I thought my daughter would remember all of the rides, the shows and the interviews with fantasy characters, her favorite memory was sitting on her daddy’s shoulders watching the fireworks in the rain. Yes, the pouring rain. I could have done that in my backyard.3ä illustration: Travel rest from work.

Nevertheless, we will return to Disney this year with Grandpa. I’ve determined to remember that there isn’t a perfect day, not even at Disney. Each day holds beautiful moments and frustrating moments, moments of glory and moments of defeat.  It is realizing that we live in this blend that keeps me in check, keeps me in reality, even at the Magic Kingdom. I have found that keeping the balance and digging for gratitude in each beautiful or frustrating moment makes all the difference. That, and a few key phrases like the following: Continue reading Three Simple Communication Tips for a Happier Vacation

Keeping a Schedule When There is No Schedule

By Shoshana Hayman, director of Life Center, The Israel Center for Attachment Parenting, www.lifecenter.org.il

One of the best things about summer vacation for children is that there is no fixed schedule. Kids don’t have to get up early to be in school on time. There is no homework that has to be handed in before a deadline. There are no school bells that compel children to change activity or location each hour. Summer vacation is a chance to breathe and enjoy the freedom from being forced to conform to someone else’s schedule and demands.1386821_77277854 garden clock

If they could have their way, children might spend summer vacation doing exactly as they please. Waking up in the morning at 11 a.m., staying in their pajamas until well past noon, eating breakfast cereal out of the box followed by a popsicle, sitting in front of a screen—computer, TV or iPad—with no time limit, coming inside from playing outside according to their own whim, and staying awake past midnight. In truth, some of us adults wouldn’t mind getting a break from our intense schedules and spending the summer this way, too!

The more mature a child is, the more he can see the value of keeping a sense of order and routine to his life. The more he can develop balance and the ability to overcome his feelings of “I don’t feel like it” with the tempering feelings of “I want to do what’s good for me and/or others,” the more he can take control of his life and create healthy habits and routines for himself. Since children lack maturity and the tempering feelings that come with more mature thinking, they depend on us to take responsibility for them. It’s up to us to create order for them, help them keep healthy daily habits, and give them a sense of routine, even during summer vacation. While the schedule does not have to be as intense as it is during the school year, we still want to take care of them in a way that’s in their best interest and give them a feeling of security from knowing that their parents are in charge and taking care of their needs.   Continue reading Keeping a Schedule When There is No Schedule

Date Night: Why and How To Make It Happen

By Judy Arnall, author of Discipline Without Distress and co-founder of Attachment Parenting Canada, www.attachmentparenting.ca.  Her date night blog is at www.datenightyyc.wordpress.com/about/.

In the movie Date Night, the characters played by Steve Carell and Tina Fey are in a long-term relationship that they try to spice up by1414109_13630179 candle going out to dinner once a week on a date night. The trouble is that their date night is monotonously predictable—they go to the same restaurant and order the same food on the same night every week. They start to notice the sameness when they become a little too clichéd even for their own taste by talking about the variation of the chicken quality instead of their feelings, week after week. One night they do something different—they dress up, pick a new restaurant and go to dinner in the city for a change. What happens next is hilarious, and they end up with an incredible evening tale, though probably one that no couple would wish for. The end result is that they had a renewed sense of each other as the people they loved, not just their roles such as parents, children, siblings, etc. (although those roles were strengthened, as well).

Why Have Date Nights?

No matter how long they have been together, couples need sparks, creativity and fun in their relationships. As the years pass, they need it even more. For centuries, organized religion has discovered that people need continuous affirmation of their faith in the form of weekly rituals such as church attendance. Relationships need the same kind of tending and care. Regular meetings are required in order to talk, have fun and spend time together.

We know that friendships survive on shared interests, yet as soon as we partner up with our very best friend, we tend to settle into domestic boredom and let the shared interests slide. Every relationship has peaks and valleys—moments where love is overwhelming and moments when you seriously wonder why you are still with your partner. Couples need to remind themselves of the qualities that they saw in each other at the beginning of the relationship and what they still love about each other. This is even more critical when mortgages, pets, children, jobs, laundry, broken appliances, normal conflicts and elderly caretaking occur alongside the couple relationship. These are normal stresses, but they can be overwhelming in a relationship without some nurturing buffers, such as date night and time together.

The “Date Night” Rules

  • Together, choose an evening of the week for date night, but make it the same day of the week so it’s not left by the wayside.

  • If you have children, hire a standing sitter to come each week at the same time. Try to get a sitter who drives, and pay the sitter well. If finances are a concern, consider finding or starting a babysitting co-op or have date nights at home after the children are asleep.

  • If you don’t wish to leave your children or if separation anxiety is a concern, plan date nights at home when the children are asleep.

  • Each partner takes a turn planning the date, executing, driving and paying. The other partner is the guest. Switch roles the next week. It’s more fun to keep plans a secret until you are both in the car or it’s the time of the date. Surprise is part of the fun!

  • The planner should hire the sitter and feed the kids before you go out.

  • Look your best, even for home dates. The only information the guest needs to know is what to wear and if he or she should eat before going out.

  • Try to plan an evening without friends so that intimate subjects can be addressed if need be. Some subjects are difficult to bring up, but with time and space, it’s better to broach the subjects and give them air time than to bury them. Couples who bury critical conversations end up with nothing to talk about in the later years and drift apart.

  • Be tolerant and enjoy the evening as much as possible, knowing that your partner put a lot of effort into making it special for you, even if he or she didn’t quite nail it that week.

When the Going Gets Tough – Babies, Toddlers & Teens

Research shows that the first five years of a relationship are the most difficult because of career-building demands, money woes and especially the parenting of babies and toddlers. The lack of sleep, child tantrums, worry and differing parenting styles can tear down the closeness and caring of even the most loving couples, as we tend to take our parenting frustrations out on each other. This can be toxic to relationships. We need frequent reminders to be kind and caring to each other in the good times and especially in the challenging times. Continue reading Date Night: Why and How To Make It Happen

Balancing Attachment Parenting and Intimate Relationships

By Kassandra Brown, parent coach, www.parentcoaching.org

Attachment Parenting International offers Eight Principles of Parenting. The eighth principle is about balance in personal and family life. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some ways to bring balance into your marriage or intimate partnership. I hope that everyone who values strong relationships can find a few insights in the ideas of finding balance offered below.SONY DSC

Attachment Parenting is wonderful for babies. It helps children feel secure and loved. These children then grow into adults who are able to form secure attachments and who do not resort to violence to resolve discrepancies.

But is Attachment Parenting good for the marriage or partnership?  When practicing Attachment Parenting, it can seem like babies and children always come first. When is the time for nurturing the relationship between parents? If the adult relationship is not nurtured, it will eventually deteriorate. The fear of this deterioration can lead parents to choose more authoritarian, distant or punitive parenting styles than they may otherwise prefer. Their motivation? To create space for the parents to still be intimate partners and individuals. If connection and attachment are correlated to loss of freedom and loss of self, it becomes much harder to embrace attachment principles.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Nurturing your children and nurturing your partnership are not mutually exclusive. Doing both at the same time does ask each parent to become more creative, loving and forgiving. It may ask each partner to grow and resolve old childhood wounds. In my opinion, this makes it more, not less, valuable as a parenting path. Let’s take a look at some ways to form and maintain strong connections with both children and adult partners. Continue reading Balancing Attachment Parenting and Intimate Relationships

Attachment Parenting Isn’t Asking Too Much…Our Society Is

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and API leader

There is still a lot of discussion centering on Attachment Parenting, even though the controversial TIME coverage was almost three weeks ago, which is equal to eons away in our instantaneous, cluttered, sensationalism-saturated mass media. You know that something – some issue, some news story – has made it big when it’s still being talked about this long after the buzz first began.

TIME is hardly the first to bring Attachment Parenting into mainstream light and not necessarily in a good light. In all fairness, the articles included in the TIME package on May 21, 2012, were probably the most fair, least biased of any mainstream coverage on the parenting style that I’ve seen. But it still perpetuated a lot of myths: One that particularly irks me is the claim that there is no research to back up Attachment Parenting, when in fact it is very well researched and one of the branches of research where there are very certain results, with studies all pointing in the same direction rather than some studies contradicting one another.

One of the myths that is particularly virulent – but then again, always has been – is that Attachment Parenting equals mommy martyrdom, that it asks too much of parents. I find this a little comical, because what does that say about you if you think that there is a parenting style that asks too much of you? As if your child isn’t worth it. Are there parents who think that way? I hope not.

What the argument is really, is revealing an overall lack of a sense of individual balance in our Western society. Asking us to do a little more for the betterment of our children, whom we love, wouldn’t be such a big deal if the majority of parents didn’t already feel tired and overworked and severely lacking some “me” time. If our emotional cups were already full most of the time. But they’re not. As a society, we seem to be constantly seeking contentment, chasing happiness.

There are plenty of theories abound of why this is, but I see it as our society asking too much of us. Mothers are supposed to work and raise children, and really, there are not many mothers who have a choice between working and staying at home. It isn’t a matter of selfishness but often out of necessity; rising food and fuel costs, access to affordable health insurance, debt, divorce – all these contribute to mothers’ lack of options. And at the end of the day, many mothers feel responsible for the housework as well.

What scares parents about Attachment Parenting is that it’s another thing to do, that it’s something else that they really need to do but just cannot get to, that not doing it could have real and lasting consequences and they already feel guilty of what they perceive to not be giving right now. Attachment Parenting isn’t asking too much of parents but too much of people who already have too much going on in their lives. To give our children as much time and energy that parents are imagining that we “attachment parents” give, well, it would require that they give up on something in their life – and that would probably be the only thing in their life that gives them any sense of personal balance. It would require them to completely overhaul their lifestyles and re-learn how to be content with a slower, simpler life – one where personal happiness wasn’t dependent on more, more, more.

This change in thinking would be daunting in the least – for some, impossible, unless they were willing to face and address their own unmet needs for emotional balance, and change the very way that they strive to meet that unquenchable void: by switching their priority away from materialism and instant gratification to quality relationships that require patience, commitment, sometimes hard work without meaningful results, and character strength.

That’s not the core of Western society, and that’s why Attachment Parenting isn’t yet mainstream. To “attachment parents,” it can be frustrating that attachment-promoting parenting techniques aren’t more widely accepted –shouldn’t love, that emotion that everyone desires to feel authentically, be an obvious way to raise our children? But for Attachment Parenting to become more mainstream, it couldn’t come by force or policy – that isn’t our way as “attachment parents,” anyway. It would have to come by a shift in our societal attitude.